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Focus on match-fixing fight

The UEFA working group on match-fixing has met in Barcelona, and has welcomed recent developments in the campaign to eliminate the negative phenomenon.

Participants at the meeting in Barcelona
Participants at the meeting in Barcelona ©UEFA

The second meeting of UEFA's working group on match-fixing, which has been held in Barcelona, has reinforced the overall determination to eliminate this negative phenomenon from the game.

This latest official exchange brought together UEFA integrity officials with state and national football association prosecutors, police and crime prevention officials, and betting and gambling experts from numerous European countries. It followed on from the inaugural session at the House of European Football in Nyon in April.

The objective of the working group is, among others, to build a framework and strategy for the future fight against match-fixing. The Barcelona meeting welcomed several recent developments which have strengthened the campaign.

In April, UEFA and the European Union's law enforcement agency, Europol, signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at reinforcing the fight against match-fixing in European football. Under the memorandum, Europol and UEFA pledged to collaborate in joint activities and in implementing relevant projects, and to exchange information on suspected match-fixing cases and the methods used by individuals or criminal organisations to manipulate matches. Europol is also giving expert assistance and advice to UEFA and its 54 member associations on contemporary criminal organisation in the area of match-fixing.

The Barcelona meeting also greeted the new Council of Europe convention on the manipulation of sports competitions as an important milestone in the campaign against match-fixing. European Union sports ministers convened in Macolin, Switzerland, in September to sign the convention. The European football family has underlined its total commitment to banish what UEFA President Michel Platini has described as "a sad and serious reality".

The relationship between the football authorities, government authorities and law enforcement bodies is seen by UEFA as a crucial component of the battle against match-fixing. The working group agreed that the relationship between sports bodies and law-enforcement bodies needed mutual trust, and that relationships have to be built up over time at national and international level.

Concrete measures for co-operation and building trust could include mutual training events, sports bodies being trained on investigation skills, and law-enforcement bodies being guided on match-fixing issues and betting markets. The working group suggested to further develop concrete processes on how and when the different stakeholders would work together, particularly in view of the new Council of Europe convention.

Participants in Barcelona stressed the need for local governments to introduce legislation that enables the sharing of information across borders in the fight against match-fixing. Some also reported that recent modifications to local legislations in certain countries had given prosecutors far more scope to deal with cases of match manipulation.

The working group will meet on an annual basis, with the next meeting scheduled to take place in autumn 2015.